Escalating tensions has BART considering signs

It can be the most frustrating part of a BART passenger’s commute: stuck on an escalator behind someone who isn’t aware of the unofficial policy that people on the left walk up or down the moving stairs and those on the right stay put.

While many regulars know the drill, BART’s new general manager said during an editorial board meeting with The San Francisco Examiner that she’s open to installing new signage specifying escalator etiquette.

Grace Crunican, who took over as head of the agency in September, said she has seen escalator instructional signs in transit stations across the nation. She told The Examiner on Monday that there is no reason BART couldn’t have similar posts.

“There are plenty of regular commuters who know the drill for the escalators,” Crunican said. “But this area has a lot of tourists who aren’t quite so sure. Our signs could really help in the education there.”

Marnie Hatch, an everyday BART rider, said it drives her “absolutely crazy” to get stuck behind a person who isn’t moving on the escalator. She said adding signs would be a good idea.

“The signs work at the airport on the moving walkways,” Hatch said. “You’d think everyone in the world would know what to do on an escalator, but that’s not the case.”

Randall Hadley, an Oakland resident who commutes to San Francisco on BART, said he avoids the escalators specifically because of those logjams.

“I just use the regular stairs because I always end up behind someone not moving on the escalator,” Hadley said.

BART spokesman Luna Salaver said the agency has looked into posting signage in the past, but there were complications because some escalators are not wide enough to accommodate two different lines of people, bringing up safety concerns. Also, the left segments of the escalators could be subject to more wear and tear if signs direct people to walk on that side, Salaver said.

Still, BART board President Bob Franklin said introducing signage for escalators could be a cheap, effective way of improving the passenger experience. He noted that the agency recently added signage to its station platforms that indicates where passengers should stand before boarding.

“I do think we can upgrade the signage at our stations,” Franklin said. “I think a few signs for the escalators can be very helpful, especially at some of the downtown stations where the escalator trips up are really long.”

Along with adding signs, Crunican said BART is working on improving the reliability of the agency’s chronically broken-down escalators. She said BART has recently hired four full-time maintenance workers and two part-time employees to help keep the machines running.

Train transit

  • 354,000 Average weekday ridership on BART
  • 44 BART stations
  • 180 BART escalators
  • 92.7% Escalator availability (machines not out of service)

Source: BART

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